Do Homeless Veterans Have the Same Needs and Outcomes as Non-Veterans?

VA New England Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center, West Haven, CT 06516, USA.
Military medicine (Impact Factor: 0.77). 01/2012; 177(1):27-31. DOI: 10.7205/MILMED-D-11-00128
Source: PubMed


Although veterans have been found to be at increased risk for homelessness as compared to non-veterans, it is not clear whether those who are homeless have more severe health problems or poorer outcomes in community-based supported housing. This observational study compared 162 chronically homeless veterans to 388 non-veterans enrolled in a national-supported housing initiative over a 1-year period. Results showed that veterans tended to be older, were more likely to be in the Vietnam era age group, to be male, and were more likely to have completed high school than other chronically homeless adults. There were no differences between veterans and non-veterans on housing or clinical status at baseline or at follow-up, but both groups showed significant improvement over time. These findings suggest that the greater risk of homelessness among veterans does not translate into more severe problems or treatment outcomes. Supported housing programs are similarly effective for veterans and non-veterans.

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    • "will be transferable to non-veteran homeless populations. Both populations share many of the same health care needs, barriers to health care services, and challenges accessing information technologies (Tsai & Rosenheck, 2012; O'Toole et al., 2003; Tsai, Mares & Rosenheck, 2012). Our research questions were: (1) How accessible are information technologies (e.g., computers, internet, and mobile phones) to homeless Veterans?; and, (2) What level of interest do homeless veterans have in using information technologies to communicate with healthcare providers? "
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Homeless veterans have complex healthcare needs, but experience many barriers to treatment engagement. While information technologies (IT), especially mobile phones, are used to engage patients in care, little is known about homeless veterans' IT use. This study examines homeless veterans' access to and use of IT, attitudes toward health-related IT use, and barriers to IT in the context of homelessness. Methods. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 30 homeless veterans in different housing programs in Boston, MA, ranging from emergency shelters to supportive transitional housing that allow stays of up to 2 years. Interviews were conducted in person, audio recorded and then transcribed. Three researchers coded transcripts. Inductive thematic analysis was used. Results. Most participants (90%) had a mobile phone and were receptive to IT use for health-related communications. A common difficulty communicating with providers was the lack of a stable mailing address. Some participants were using mobile phones to stay in touch with providers. Participants felt mobile-phone calls or text messages could be used to remind patients of appointments, prescription refills, medication taking, and returning for laboratory results. Mobile phone text messaging was seen as convenient, and helped participants stay organized because necessary information was saved in text messages. Some reported concerns about the costs associated with mobile phone use (calls and texting), the potential to be annoyed by too many text messages, and not knowing how to use text messaging. Conclusion. Homeless veterans use IT and welcome its use for health-related purposes. Technology-assisted outreach among this population may lead to improved engagement in care.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Nov 2013

  • No preview · Article · Jul 2012 · Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research
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    ABSTRACT: The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has been increasing efforts to reach out to assist incarcerated veterans. While previous studies have shown strong associations between incarceration and homelessness, few studies have examined distinctive characteristics of incarcerated homeless and non-homeless veterans. National administrative data on 30,348 incarcerated veterans served by the Health Care for Re-entry Veterans (HCRV) program were analyzed. Incarcerated veterans were classified into four groups based on their history of past homelessness: not homeless, transiently homeless, episodically homeless, and chronically homeless. Multinomial logistic regression was used to compare groups on sociodemographic characteristics, criminal justice status, clinical status, and their interest in using VHA services. Of the sample, 70 % were classified as not homeless, 8 % as transiently homeless, 11 % as episodically homeless, and 11 % as chronically homeless. Thus, 30 % of the sample had a homeless history, which is five times the 6 % rate of past homelessness among adult men in the general population. Compared to non-homeless incarcerated veterans, all three homeless groups reported significantly more mental health problems, more substance abuse, more times arrested in their lifetime, more likely to be incarcerated for a non-violent offense, and were more interested in receiving VHA services after release from prison. Together, these findings suggest re-entry programs, like HCRV, can address relevant mental health-related service needs, especially among formerly homeless veterans and veterans in need of services are receptive to the offer of assistance.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research
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